Athens, Greece

By John Kolesidis

Known in Greece as Evzones, the soldiers comprising the presidential guard – a term dating back to Homer, meaning the “well-girt” men, implying an elite status – are a symbol of discipline. The unit is often referred to as “the jewel of the Greek army”, and rightly so. Their primary mission is to guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier around the clock, which may seem like a piece of cake, except it isn’t. During their watch, they have to remain completely motionless and stand at attention at all costs in all kinds of weather. During violent demonstrations, for example, plastic water bottles, oranges and Molotov cocktails keep flying over their heads. Their eyes may tear up because of the tear-gas used by police, but they remain stone-still, maintaining a show of normality. It is quite surreal to watch them stand still while a virtual war is raging around them or while little children tease and harass them, often pinching them to make sure they are alive.